The current economic crisis has put government intervention at the centre of the debate on industrial growth and economic development. Government efforts to stimulate a structural change of Italian industries are needed, and in this context it becomes fundamental to recognise the crucial role that policy evaluation can have and engage in evaluation exercises in order to understand what policies are working. The paper offers an evaluation exercise on the major policy instruments used to promote R&D and innovation within Italian firms. We concentrate in particular on Law 46/82 and we look at the effects of the incentives it provides on firms R&D expenditures and on new employment generation. We also consider the effects of such incentives when other similar laws are at work. Results suggest that a rethinking of the system of incentives might be needed to limit an inefficient overlapping of instruments.